Over the past few years, God has been teaching me about process. Process is defined as, “a systematic series of actions directed to some end.” In this case, the process is about how He grows us up into maturity and Christlikeness. His Word is filled with stories of His dealings with the saints of old to bring about their spiritual growth. Scripture tells us that, “These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us…” (1 Cor. 10:11) It can only help us to heed these warnings that we might learn from their mistakes.
Though God uniquely tailors the process for each individual, there are common aspects we all must go through. One of these is the stripping away, or death, of our human zeal. Sounds pretty grim, I realize, but having experienced it a few times, I must confess its a painful part of this process. Some might think of it as “death to self,” or even, “death of a vision,” but regardless of what it’s called, death is always painful. One of the best examples is seen in the life of Moses.
Though he was raised in Pharoah’s house as his son, Moses knew that he was a Hebrew, as stated in Exodus 2:11, “One day, after Moses had grown up, he went out to where his own people were and watched them at their hard labor. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his own people.” He proceeds to kill the Egyptian after checking to be sure no one saw him, and buries him in the sand. The next day, he returns and sees two Hebrews fighting. He asked the one who started it why he was hitting his fellow Hebrew and his response was, “Who made you ruler and judge over us? Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian?” Stephen, in Acts 7:25 tells us that, “Moses thought that his own people would realize that God was using him to rescue them, but they did not.”
I think its safe to assume that Moses had some idea of his calling before God actually spoke to him in the burning bush. We humans generally have to be told something repeatedly until it finally sinks in, and Moses would have been no different. In his well-meaning zeal to obey God, he acts prematurely and ends up in the wilderness for 40 years before he hears from God again. Like Abraham with Hagar, Moses took matters into his own hands, perhaps thinking he too, needed to help God out. Or he may have become tired of waiting for God to fulfill His promise.
No doubt, during his 40 years in the desert tending sheep, he replayed his decisions over and over. When he finally encounters God in the burning bush and receives his calling and commissioning, it is clear he has been stripped of every bit of self-confidence and human zeal. (See Exodus 3 & 4) He has died to any visions of grandeur he may have had in those early days. No longer is he filled with selfish ambition to receive the praises of his fellow Hebrews for being their deliverer. When he eventually decides to obey God, we see a man, sufficiently humbled, that God is able to move through mightily to accomplish His purposes. He has learned by experience, that apart from Him, he can do nothing. (John 15:5)
All who have been powerfully used of God have had to go through this same process. It is God’s mercy, so that we are not destroyed by pride. I am grateful to have a God who knows me that well, and is committed to growing me up in Him.
Have you experienced a similar situation? What has God taught you through it? Please comment below.